- How to Get Out of a Photography Rut
- How to Give Your Clients Free Photography Gifts (and Why You Should Do It)
photo by filadendron via iStock
Learning how to start a photography business is one of the most difficult things you’ll ever do, but it’s also so rewarding. I don’t want to tell you that you will be able to start a photography business easily. But, even if your business fails, it can still be rewarding. You’ll still learn so much and you can always do it again a few years down the line. It is the creative struggle.
But, if you’re serious about your business endeavors, then you can start a photography business on a budget. This way, you won’t be out too much money if it doesn’t work out, since, if we’re being honest, this is a tumultuous time to start a photography business.
In order to start a photography business on the cheap, you’ll just need to do more research than you otherwise would. Reading this article, which is packed with photography business tips for beginners, is a good start.
Invest in Gear Wisely
photo by MarioGuti via iStock
The first thing a lot of photographers want to do when they try to start a photography business is to buy all of the gear they think they could use in their first year of operating. This is a terrible decision. For starters, you really don’t know if your photography business is going to make it a full year. And, even if it does, your business will likely have pivoted to a more niche market by that time, so a lot of the gear you purchased when you first started will never be used.
Instead of buying any photography gear you think you could need, wait until you absolutely do need it. For example, I held out on buying a serious photography drone until I got my first serious photography client. I knew that I was bringing money in with that gear and that I would likely continue to do so, so it was worth it to me.
To really start a photography business, you only need a few mandatory pieces of gear, like a camera, two good lenses, and a flash if you’re planning on doing a lot of low-light, event shooting.
Let your business tell you when it’s time to scale.
Hold Off on Branding
photo by Dariia Chernenko via iStock
Another mistake I see a lot of photographers make when they first start a photography business is that they get so excited about the business that they want to invest a bunch of money in it straight away. They’ll pay graphic designers for expensive logos and website designers for what they could otherwise create for free.
Not only is this a huge waste of money on a business that isn’t yet profitable, but it’s a mistake because your branding will likely change a ton in the first year. You likely don’t know exactly what types of clients you want when you first get started, or you may find that the types of client you want and the types of clients that are available are different.
You may even end up changing the name of your business and you really don’t want an expensive website and business cards with the incorrect company name.
Focus on Your Editing Skills
photo by gorodenkoff via iStock
If you’re going to spend any money on photography education before you start a photography business, spend it on learning how to edit your photos. You need to have a really solid grasp of both Lightroom and Photoshop in order to make the most money as a photographer. Thankfully, there are tons of online resources that are really cheap to help you do this.
Another reason why I think that you can spend money on learning how to edit is because you can then turn around and make money by selling presets through your social media accounts. It’s a win-win.
Get Everything You Can Out of Free Educational Resources
photo by damircudic via iStock
I did note that I think it’s acceptable to spend money on editing education, but pretty much every other aspect of your business can and should be learned for free.
You can find tons of free education online about starting a business. You can also find tons of free education online about photography, like on PhotographyTalk!. Sure, you’ll need to go collect all of this, which takes time, but you’ll be loads ahead of other people who paid a few thousand dollars for some fancy business program that really only collected that information for them.
Another good place to look for photography business tips is your local community. There are probably a lot of photographer meet-ups in your city and there is no nicer, more helpful group than photographers.
Price Your Products Carefully
photo by ljubaphoto via iStock
When you start a photography business, you likely won’t know how much to charge for your time. Or, worse, you may know what you need to charge to make your business successful, but you may not be able to find clients right off the bat who are willing to pay you this amount.
So, price your products really carefully. Try to make sure that you are paying yourself enough to upkeep your equipment, while still leaving yourself enough money to keep working. As your business grows, you need to be flexible. Raise your prices every three months for the first year, if you need to, until you’ve got clients who already love you and are willing to pay you what you’re worth.
Give Thoughtful Gifts to Your Clients
photo by fizkes via iStock
One way that I gained a lot of repeat clients when I first started my business was that I gave gifts to my clients.
We’re not talking about lavish items by any means, but giving them a nice, high-quality print goes a long way in building a relationship that results in continued work with your clients for years to come.
The key to making this work is to work with other businesses that you trust. So, I work with CanvasHQ for my client gifts.
A canvas from CanvasHQ is a wonderful gift to give your clients because, primarily, they aren’t expensive. They start at $20 and go up from there. But, they’re also a wonderful gift to give your clients because they will be reminded of you everytime they walk by that canvas in their home.
I’ve definitely gotten more client recommendations from clients that received a free gift from me, which either means that they’re thinking about me more often or that they had a better experience with me.
CanvasHQ is also a family-run company, so they understand how important it is to get you your products in a timely fashion. Even throughout the pandemic, CanvasHQ’s production time was never over a few days. And, during their busy season, you can check how long your product would take to be shipped on their website.